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Often times it has been stated that history repeats itself, I have found an example of a situation where it did. Lots of people think that the McCarthy hearings of the 1950 s are a repeat of history from the Salem witch-hunts of 1692. In both cases, all of the accusations were false, and also fictitious. Also in both cases, the main reason people were blamed was so that ones who were condemning would receive their own personal gain.
In both parties, McCarthy and the girls, they accused people to make themselves look better to others and gain respect. They both gained respect from others, which was something they did not have a lot, which is one of the main reasons McCarthy started his Red Scare, and it also played a small role in why the girls accused so many people. In 1692, people blamed of being witches were used as scapegoats for society's problems, and then again in 1950, those blamed of being communists were used as scapegoats for society's problems. In the long run, both cases were worthless except for the lessons that it may teach those who look back at the awful experiences. Many people were killed in the small town of Salem and the ones who werent killed had their reputations forever lowered. Everyone who was charged by Joseph McCarthy had his or her own reputation diminished as well.
All of this could have been prevented if the people involved would have only opened their blinded eyes and saw the truth, the truth which lied right in front of their faces. One night in the small New England town of Salem, Massachusetts, three young girls and a slave from Barbados were caught dancing naked in the forest around a large kettle. This wasnt something that girls normally did in the 1600 s and was also socially unacceptable, as was also considered to be of the devil. These girls, Abigail Williams, Betty Parris, Mercy Lewis, and Tituba the slave were immediately accused of being witches just because they were dancing in the woods.
In order to get themselves off the hook, the girls pointed their fingers at other women in the town of practicing witchcraft. They indicted some women because their names popped into their heads, but one particular girl, Abigail Williams, accused a woman named Elizabeth Proctor because she had lust for her husband, John Proctor. Abigail Williams and John Proctor had already had an affair. However, unlike Abigail, John wanted to leave that horrible mistake in the past and forget about her. Abigail was also inclined to do all of these malicious acts because the women in her town made fun of her and called her names. They knew of her lust for men, so Abigail took the initiative and they were all charged of witchcraft.
What seemed like a harmless dance in the woods, resulted in the death of twenty innocent people, and the ruining of many peoples lives. Nineteen people were hung and the other person had his head crushed in. Not everyone who was accused died though, they each had a decision they could make, to determine life or death. They could either plead guilty and live with a damaged reputation, or attempt to prove their innocence and die a horrible death. Margaret Jacobs said, They told me if I would not confess I should be put down into the dungeon and would be hanged, but if I would confess I should have life (Salem Home Page). If anyone decided to live, his or her name would be ruined forever.
Not only would the person lose all respect for himself or herself, but the community would lose all respect for them as well. On the other hand, if one chose to die, they would no longer be able to cherish the life that was given to them, but their name would be forever known as a good name. Also, the person that pleaded innocent and was hung would be able to go to heaven because they had not lied, and were accused unjustly. In another small city, Wheeling, West Virginia, a man named Joseph McCarthy accused two hundred and five people of being communists in the early 1950 s. McCarthy came forward with the list by saying: While I cannot take the time to name all of the men in the State Department who have been named as members of the Communist Party and members of a spy ring, I have here in my hand a list of 205 people that were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping the policy of the State Department. (Issacs, 157) He was not a widely known senator, and thought that by accusing people of being communists, he would become more popular and look better in the eyes of the nation.
He did all he did because of his quest for political power. The Communists are just like the witches of the 1600 s. People did not like them and were also afraid of them, but they were just like the witches, harmless. A man by the name of A.
Mitchel Palmer referred to communism as "seeking to replace marriage vows with libertine laws, burning up the foundations of society (Fariello, 24) ." Many people had respect for McCarthy. However, just like in the witch-hunts, no one who was accused was really guilty. All of the two hundred and five people were innocent of being communists, and luckily, unlike the witches, none of them were ever convicted. However, they did lose what was once a good reputation, as well as jobs, respect, and the pride in their country.
The Salem witch trials were not carried out in a fair way. None of the accused victims were given a fair trial, not only were they all guilty until proven innocent, but they had no chance to defend themselves. The only proof Abigail and the other presented, had no cold hard facts for evidence, but was so widely believed that it didnt matter. They condemned innocent women on the basis of intangible evidence, confessions, and such things as "witch marks" (Hill, 97).
Abigail went to the extremes to prove people guilty, for example, once she stabbed herself with a needle and claimed that Elizabeth had stabbed her with her spirit using voodoo. She also claimed to see a bird flying in the air that never really was there. If the judge or any of the other authoritative adults had really seen what was going on and were not so blind to the truth which lied right in front of their eyes, then nothing would have happened to the victims who were made to look like witches. The people were so blinded about what they wanted to see and what was really there.
Nothing interesting or exciting had ever gone on in the small town of Salem, and now that something had, they wanted to believe it was true just for the pure amusement that it brought. So everything that the girls said appealed to them so much, that they followed the lead and captured all the women on the list that the girls had made. The McCarthy hearings, though unfair, were more just than the Salem witch trials. No one was killed or convicted, and people had a fair trial.
By this period in time, people had the right to a fair trial and were innocent until proven guilty, which was because the Constitution had came about. All of the accused may have lost their good reputations, but over time you could recover your reputation. If you are put to death, then there is no chance to gain back your life. Even if they had lost their jobs, they could always move away, or apply for new work elsewhere, all was definitely not lost. On the other hand, in the Salem situation, this was difficult to since they lived in such a newly developed city, and it was much harder to move or become a new person. The communists also werent forced to die and leave many loved ones behind to be grief stricken.
In conclusion, history can and does often repeat itself. This is demonstrated nicely in this situation. The Salem Witch Trials and the McCarthy hearings are very similar and yet from different time periods in history. They both involved many innocent victims who were accused of being something that they were not. Both of the groups were more than extremely looked down on for being either a witch or a communist, which was unfair to them. A lot of peoples lives were ruined because of a couple of foolish girls and one selfish man.
Their primary goal was to look good in front of others who did not really respect them, and in each case, only wanting that respect at the cost of other peoples lives. Both trials were deceitful, misleading, and ultimately unreasonable to the people who were affected by it. Let us hope that history does not repeat itself again according to the Salem Witch-Hunts and the McCarthy hearings.
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